Senate Passes Peters Bipartisan Bill to Establish National Integrated Flood Information System

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate passed U.S. Senator Gary Peters’ (MI) bipartisan legislation that would establish a National Integrated Flood Information System. The Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support (FLOODS) Act, which Peters introduced with U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), would specifically provide funding to strengthen the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) ability to forecast floods, hurricanes and tornados and disperse relevant information to local officials and first responders.

“Flooding has had devastating consequences in Michigan this year – and these challenges are made even worse by the ongoing pandemic,” said Senator Peters. “I am pleased the Senate passed this important bipartisan legislation to better prepare against flooding. By better forecasting flooding, local officials and families can take the necessary pre-emptive steps to minimize flood damage and protect our communities.”

“During this record-breaking hurricane season, NOAA is playing an important role in providing accurate and timely information as high water continues to be a major threat,” said Senator Wicker. “The FLOODS Act would modernize NOAA’s flood forecasts to help people stay ahead of a storm. I thank Senator Peters for working with me on this bipartisan legislation, and I hope to see it pass the House.”

“With flash floods occurring more frequently in every corner of the nation, early and reliable detection and warning is critical to save life and property,” said Cheryl Small, Executive Director, National Flood Association. “We believe the integration and partnerships — including with the private sector — that will be developed or improved through this legislation will result in a more prepared and resilient nation.”

“Investing in science and NOAA’s prediction and communication capabilities will help keep communities — particularly vulnerable communities in coastal and inland floodplains—safe,” said Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director and Lead Economist, Union of Concerned Scientists Climate & Energy Program. “This timely legislation will improve the NOAA’s forecasting through comprehensive data collection and integration at multiple levels, including governmental, private and non-governmental agencies and organizations.”

“On behalf of 1.4 million members of the National Association of Realtors, thank you to Senator Peters,” said Vince Malta, President, National Association of Realtors. “The bill would … modernize NOAA forecasting and provide more timely, actionable information that could help avoid flood, tornado, and hurricane losses to both property and life.”

“Improving the nation’s resiliency to natural catastrophes including flooding will take the combined efforts of individuals, communities, businesses, and governments,” said Nathaniel F. Wienecke, Senior Vice President, American Property Casualty Insurance Association. “On behalf of our members, we commend Senator Peters and Senator Wicker for addressing this important issue by taking action to improve flood monitoring and forecasting.”

This legislation is also supported by the American Association of Flood Plain Managers, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Society of Professional Surveyors, and the U.S. Geospatial Executives Organization.

The bipartisan legislation would also form partnerships between NOAA and institutions of higher learning to bolster total water predictions, assign a service coordination hydrologist at each National Weather Service River Forecast Center to support decision making on the local and statewide levels, and establish a committee to increase coordination between federal agencies responsible for water management.

Peters has led numerous efforts to support Michigan communities that have recently been affected by severe flooding events. This past September, Peters helped ensure that the Michigan Department of Transportation received over $23.5 million for reconstruction of roads damaged by the dam failure and catastrophic flooding that happened in Midland County and surrounding areas in May this year. Peters also introduced in May a bipartisan bill to provide greater assistance to communities facing ongoing disaster response challenges, such as the dam failure in Midland. Peters additionally introduced a bipartisan bill this past March that advanced through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters is Ranking Member, to provide support for local communities facing rising water levels, coastal erosion, and flooding that have put homes and property at risk, and caused millions of dollars in damages.